Block party trailer a hit in Southeast Alabama Association

By Lanell Downs Smith
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Delivered just a few months ago Southeast Alabama Baptist Association’s (SABA) new block party trailer is already helping local churches connect with their community, providing churches with more opportunities for missions and ministry.

The trailer supplies a resource that enables churches to be “better together,” said Judy Gay, SABA church relations coordinator. 

“It’s an example of how our resources can be used collectively to provide something like this and how this one vehicle can be used in all parts of our association, by rural churches and city churches, by small churches and larger churches.” 

The trailer, stocked with a popcorn machine, snow cone maker, refrigerator, generator and carnival style games, is equipped with a fold-out stage that can be used for gospel presentations. Churches provide their own supplies and food and can “check out” the trailer for use at their community events.

Wired Ministries in Dothan was among the first to utilize the trailer at their Wired Week event June 21–26 during which volunteers distributed snow cones while building relationships with homeless people in Dothan; residents of Marianna, Florida, recovering from Hurricane Michael; and participants at a Kids Club water day in Enterprise.

‘Connecting point’

“[The trailer] gave us an immediate connecting point,” said Wired community ministry director Morgan Blankenship. “Who doesn’t love a snow cone on a hot summer day? We emphasize relationship building on our evangelism teams and this allowed us to easily begin that conversation with people.” 

Blankenship reported seven salvations during Wired Week and said the trailer enhanced their ability to minister to the community and helped teach teams of youth how to effectively share the gospel.

Matt Vickers, minister of youth and children for Pathway Baptist Church, Dothan, said their community back-to-school bash in August was a resounding success thanks to the block party trailer. The predominantly senior adult congregation has been working to build up its ministries to children and students so they used the trailer to connect with more than 60 children and their families at the event.

“We were able to engage family members,” Vickers said. “Our people were talking to moms and dads while their children played. Our senior adults were just loving on these kids and their families.”

The trailer was a “Godsend” that represented the willingness of the association to be a neighbor to participating churches, Vickers said.

This year the association will mobilize the trailer to serve meals to workers at the National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Nov. 1–10, said John Thomas, SABA associational missions director.

SABA sets up on the midway to serve meals on Thursday before the fair opens. Volunteers assemble sack lunches to dispense and this year lunches will be distributed from the block party trailer.

Jeff Ross, pastor at Heritage Baptist Church, Dothan, has led the fair ministry for more than six years, coordinating the effort to provide clothing, blankets and meals to fair workers, many of whom struggle financially and have specific needs that come with life on the road, Ross said. The association provides workers with toiletry bags and “welcome to Dothan” cards created by children’s groups from the local churches. A baby changing and feeding station is available each night of the fair and volunteers use the opportunity to engage moms in gospel conversations.

SABA churches partner with Campers on Mission to host a worship service the first Sunday morning of the fair and each year between five and 10 decisions for Christ are made, Ross said. 

Love of Christ

“It’s been a great way for us to be able to show the love of Christ and it has afforded us opportunities to witness,” said Ross. “The people know we are there and when they come year after year they look for us.”